Jewish Studies and Social Work

Program Background

The Jewish Professional Leadership program is the umbrella for the two dual-degree programs through The Graduate School of JTS and Columbia University, one with the Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW) and one with Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). Students in the Jewish Professional Leadership program participate in an integration seminar that allows them to explore the intersection of their two master's degrees as well as other relevant issues in the Jewish community. Some examples of previous topics covered in the seminar are the role of the professional in the Jewish community, issues of diversity in the Jewish community, and community building.

The dual-degree program of The Graduate School of JTS and the Columbia University School of Social Work (CSSW) prepares students for professional leadership careers in the Jewish community. Jewish Professional Leadership students are simultaneously admitted to both schools and attend them concurrently. Upon completion of the program, students receive both an MA in Jewish Studies from JTS and an MS in Social Work from Columbia.

Visionary faculty and Jewish communal professionals created the program more than 30 years ago with a goal still important today: to provide future Jewish communal professional leaders with the essential knowledge, skills, and experience to meet the challenge of building Jewish community in an increasingly complex world.

The curriculum at The Graduate School emphasizes an academic approach to Jewish studies. Students study Jewish history, tradition, and culture with JTS's esteemed faculty. Through elective courses, students can take advantage of the full spectrum of study available at JTS.


Program Requirements

Students are required to take a minimum of 69 credits in total.

At JTS, 24 credits are taken, to which 6 credits are transferred from Columbia University's School of Social Work (CSSW). In order to fulfill the Graduate School and program requirements, a student may need to take additional Judaica and Hebrew-language courses prior to graduation.

At CSSW, a minimum of 45 credits must be completed—depending on the method of concentration—to which a maximum of 15 credits are transferred from JTS. Fieldwork is an integral part of the total educational experience at CSSW, providing students opportunities to use the theoretical content learned in courses.

See sample course schedules (PDF).

JTS Course Requirements

  • Graduate-Level First Year Seminar (one course, 3 credits)
  • American Jewish Social History (two courses, 6 credits)
  • Analysis of contemporary Jewish issues with traditional Jewish sources (one course, 3 credits)
  • Jewish History (one course, 3 credits): either Medieval Jewish History or Modern Jewish History
  • Elective courses approved by the advisor (three courses, 9 credits)
  • Social Work Seminar (four semesters, noncredit)
  • Israel Seminar (one winter session course, noncredit)

Additional Requirements for Graduation
All students in The Graduate School are required to demonstrate a basic level of Judaica competency in addition to the courses they take toward the master's degree. In their first year, all students must complete a one-semester course, Classics of the Jewish Tradition, or demonstrate proficiency in this area. Students who have not studied the Hebrew Bible or Talmud with a scholarly approach and who have not yet acquired proficiency in Hebrew at an intermediate level will be required to fulfill these requirements before graduation, according to Graduate School procedures. Students in the dual-degree program must also fulfill a liturgy requirement or demonstrate corresponding proficiency.

The social work program at CSSW provides an integrated course of study that offers a combined approach of classroom and field instruction. Depending on their particular interests, students are admitted into one of four different method areas. Depending on the area of concentration, students must complete a minimum of 45 credits.

In order to meet the requirements of any of these method areas, students must take the practice courses in the core sequence, four terms of fieldwork, and the required background courses. Jewish Studies and Social Work students are exempt from taking T660A: Human Behavior and Social Environment and the second-year field-practice core course requirements.

Methods of Concentration

  • Social Enterprise Administration: Emphasizes building knowledge, skills, and values in administering programs
  • Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming: Emphasizes direct practice, community practice, movement from case to cause, development of innovative and responsive social programs and program resources
  • Policy Practice: Emphasizes policy analysis and advocacy
  • Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice: Emphasizes assessment, intervention, and evaluation within a field of practice

Program Highlights

Jewish Professional Leadership Seminar
Every other week, students participate in a seminar that focuses on different aspects of their work in the Jewish community, and synthesizes what they are learning at JTS and CSSW or SIPA. Speakers and case presentations bring ideas, ethics, and social responsibility to life. Students participate in planning the topics and themes for the seminar.

Israel Seminar
This seminar, which takes place in Israel, focuses on the complexity of social, religious, political, and economic issues in Israeli society; the changing relationship between Israel and world Jewry; and the challenges North American Jewish communal professionals face in interpreting and integrating Israel into their work. This seminar is typically conducted in alternating years, often in partnership with other New York–area graduate programs and partner agencies.

Site Visits to Jewish Communal Agencies
With its location in New York City, the program takes advantage of the rich resources of the city's vibrant Jewish communal network of agencies. Site visits to national and international agencies give students the opportunity to meet with key professionals in the field and explore the most current issues facing their organizations and the Jewish community at large. Student input into the selection of agencies and the themes to be explored is essential to the success of these visits.

Length of Study
The program can be completed in as little as two years and no summers, or any combination up to three years. The length of time depends on the student's requirements at JTS and method of concentration at CSSW.


Prospective students interested in Jewish Professional Leadership apply to both to JTS and CSSW. The Jewish Professional Leadership program requires applicants to demonstrate a commitment to the Jewish community. Contact Admissions at (212) 678-8022 or to learn more. Visit the JTS Graduate School admissions webpage as well as the CSSW website to learn more about admissions requirements.